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Royal Ballet’s Francesca Hayward joins big-screen Cats adaptation

Francesca Hayward as Alice at the Royal Ballet. Photo: Bill Cooper
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Royal Ballet principal Francesca Hayward has joined the cast of the forthcoming film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats.

It is understood Hayward will play the principal dance role of Victoria in Tom Hooper’s film, which is being choreographed by Wayne McGregor.

Already confirmed for the big screen adaptation are Judi Dench, who will play a gender-swapped Old Deuteronomy, James Corden and Jennifer Hudson, as Grizabella.

Royal Ballet director Kevin O’Hare said: “I’m delighted that Francesca has been asked to take the leading role in Cats, which promises to be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one which showcases her fantastic talent to a whole new audience.”

The film is being produced by Universal Pictures and Working Title, and is executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Lloyd Webber and Angela Morrison.

Hayward will take time out from the Royal Ballet company to shoot the film, and will return next spring.

She joined the Royal Ballet from the Royal Ballet School in 2010 and was appointed a principal in 2016, becoming the first non-white female principal dancer in the company, aged 24.

She will no longer perform as planned in Alastair Marriott’s The Unknown Soldier next month, and will be replaced by Yasmine Naghdi.

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